The Pats offence was firing on all cylinders Saturday night, scoring seven goals to force a game seven in Swift Current on Monday.
It was do or die for Regina after dropping game five in Swift Current on Friday night to give their rivals a 3-2 series lead.
And two of the team’s top regular-season scorers – Sam Steel and Matt Bradley – finally broke through to score their first goals of the playoffs.
But it was Robbie Holmes who opened the scoring late in the first period with a tip-in goal to beat Stuart Skinner. Just a minute later Cameron Hebig joined in on the fun, putting the Pats up 2-0 heading into the first intermission.
Hebig found the net for the second time less than a minute into the second, for his fifth of the playoffs, knocking Swift Current solidly on their heels.
“I think just our relentlessness,” said forward Matt Bradley about what was working for his team. “Shift after shift we’re getting the puck on their (defence) and we’re really getting in on them hard, and we’re trying to get traffic in front of Skinner there. It’s been good.”
The Pats seem to be causing trouble for Skinner, at least when they play at home because for the second straight game in the Brandt Centre he was chased from the game and replaced by backup tender Joel Hofer.
Skinner allowed five goals including one from Holmes and two from Hebig as well as one each from Jake Leschyshyn and Nick Henry. He did not return for the third period.
“We’ve just been trying to find different ways to produce offence and it seems like it’s working,” said Sam Steel of his team’s scoring success. “Playoffs you always got to evolve and I think we’ve done a good job at that.”
Steel’s third-period goal ended a five-game scoring drought, while Bradley ended a 14-game skid with an unassisted goal – the Pats’ seventh of the night – later on in the frame.
Bradley said it was nice to finally have the monkey off his back.
“I think it’s pretty deadly. A couple of us haven’t’ been able to score this series so now the floodgates are open.”
Steel, on the other hand, had eight assists in the series so far before scoring his first.
“I was just trying to contribute in other ways so it was nice to get a goal there,” he said but added it was nice to see his teammates step up to the plate too.
“To see that we’ve been getting all these goals with other guys it just shows our depth.”
Paddock hopes it gives the two players – Bradley especially – confidence as they head into a pivotal game seven.
“You always feel better about yourself when you score as a player. I think it’s important for them both. I don’t know if (Steel’s) been really shooting the puck enough for me so to get one, maybe just loosens him up a little bit,” Paddock explained. “Same with (Bradley). I mean for a player of his ability to go 14 games (without a goal), so that’s the last 8 in the regular season as well when we were playing well and scoring, it’s really good from him.”
PATS HOPE TO REPLICATE EFFORT IN GAME 7
The win on Saturday forces the Pats to return to Swift Current for game seven.
If the Pats lose, they’ll be stuck practicing for weeks while they wait for the Memorial Cup to start on May long week.
As the host team, they have an automatic spot in the CHL championships, but they want to earn it.
“(Winning is) everything,” Bradley stressed. “We don’t want to lose, we don’t want to be practicing for 40 days.”
“We’re just a hungry team we want to win,” Steel added. “I don’t think there’s much more to it than that. We’re not just coasting knowing we’re going to play then … we want to be playing hockey right up to the Memorial Cup.”
Paddock said his team needs to stay out of the penalty box to combat a potent Swift Current powerplay, but in the end, he knows his players have what it takes to win it.
“I think it’s just the group of them. Their makeup, their determination. Sometimes … we’ve been frustrated with them in this series, but I think that they’re good players, they’re good guys with experience and they want to win.”
Game seven goes Monday night in Swift Current.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m.